YOUR BACKYARD - If we don't kill our bears, their children and grandchildren will be living in your backyard. That is one way to summarize a 12-page report from state wildlife officials, claiming that Gov.-elect Phil Murphy's plan to stop the bear hunts could cause their population to double by 2022, NJ.com reports. Murphy wants to explore some "non-lethal alternatives" to a bear hunt. An idea: blindfold the bears, load them on a NJ Transit bus and drop them off the New York Thruway with maps pointing North.

STATEWIDE - Of no surprise, the annual rankings show New Jersey remains a big "out-migration" state, with many more people moving out, than moving in. U-Haul reports the state ranks 45th in 2017 in terms of growth, with 6 percent more customers renting U-Hauls to get the heck out of here. No surprise, as you can cash out of your expensive home and move to some southern state, at half the cost and double the Walmarts. There is a silver lining to the report: Jersey City was ranked Number 10 among U-Haul's Top 25 growth cities, and East Orange and Passaic were among the limited amount of New Jersey cities where people are voluntarily moving in, not fleeing. Another idea: Tie the bears to the U-hauls.

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TRENTON - NJ Spotlight continues to show a superior level of journalism, sniffing out a story about $34 million in consulting fees paid to Bank of America for assisting in converting the New Jersey Lottery into an asset for the perennially-broke state pension system. No clue what Bank of America did, but let's assume the work was terrifically complicated. That's not the issue. The issue is: How come this enormous fee was not disclosed earlier, and what was the process in deciding that Bank of America should be the lottery winner for this lucrative contract for "research and expertise"? Another idea: Give the bears to Bank of America as a "bonus."

NEWARK - So, there ya go. $5 billion. Gov. Chris Christie signed his shoot-for-the-stars legislation, in this overly grand and historic effort to lure a company to New Jersey. The governor is hoping $5 billion in tax subsidies will get the attention of Amazon to consider Newark as the location for its second headquarters. It is expected that Amazon will return the love to its host city, to the tune of 50,000 new jobs and $5 billion in investment. Newark also offers a professional hockey team (currently 22-11), great Portuguese food and a top-notch cigar bar. So, everything is in place. Another idea: Free bears for Amazon.

LAWRENCE - It seems whenever an elected official in New Jersey gets busted for stealing money, strip clubs are always part of the story. And, so, of no great surprise, former Lawrence Township mayor Mark Holmes is looking at five years in the slammer for stealing nearly $100,000 in public funds, mostly from the Asbury Park Housing Authority, which he ran, the Trentonian reports. Of no surprise, the ill-gotten gains went, in part, to spa treatments and strip clubs. Another idea: Kick the former mayor out with the blindfolded bears.


LUBEC, Maine - What happens when a historic building falls into disrepair? You obviously fix it. But what if a blizzard blows the building into another country and it refuses to give it back? There's a cold standstill in northern Maine, on the border of a Canadian island after a Jan. 4 blizzard tore a historic brine shed from its mooring off Lubec, Maine and sent it floating under a bridge and into Canada, the Bangor Daily News reports. Apparently this shed has incredible significance, as the last traditional smoked-herring facility in the U.S. But Canadians now say the shed is theirs, arguing salvage rights. Meanwhile, the shed is half-submerged in ice and is deteriorating quickly. Chainsaw-wielding vandals are now threatening to dismantle the thing, showing a side of Canada that is not the least bit, well, Canadian.

EVERYWHERE - Good news! Crediting all this glorious tax reform,Walmart, now flush with even more cash as it enjoys a 21 percent tax rate, will raise starting wages from $9 to $11 an hour and give out bonuses of up to $1,000. Not coincidentally, of course, Sam's Club, owned by Walmart, closed three stores in New Jersey-including its store in Linden-as part of a plan to shutter 63 stores nationwide. Sam's Club issued a statement, according to NJ.com, saying that the store closings were done to "better align our locations with our strategy." The thinly-veiled strategy, of course, is leaving hundreds of New Jerseyans out of work. Thanks, Obama.


It was this day in 1991 that the U.S. Congress gave President Bush permission to wage war in Iraq - back during a time when Presidents actually asked Congress for permission to wage war.


Bindle stiff - [BIHN-dul STIF] - verb

Definition: A hobo; one who carries his clothes or bedding in a bundle

Example: With all this "tax reform" at the federal level, is New Jersey going to be home to a bunch of bindle stiffs?